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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Feisty Warner and gutsy Clarke revitalise Australia: T3D1

Australia 3/331 (88ov, Warner 135/152b/1x6 12x4, Clarke 92*/181b/9x4) v South Africa at Cape Town; T3/3 D1/5. Australia won toss and chose to bat.

 Both sides made two changes: Australia restored Shane Watson in place of Shaun Marsh (not Alex Doolan as I'd expected and sort of hoped) and omitted the workhorse  Peter Siddle for the greater pace of James Pattinson. South Africa omitted Quinton deKock and the injured Wayne Parnell, restoring Alviro Petersen and giving Kyle Abbott (of whom I know little) his first Test cap.

Once play started it was Australia's day. David Warner and Chris Rogers went after the bowling to the tune of 43 runs from the first six overs before Morne Morkel steadied things down a little  - but not much, as 1/118 at lunch from 26 overs attests. 

The second session was enthrallingly compulsive viewing. Australia added 1/77 from another 26 overs, and, well as Morkel bowled, put themselves into a strong position, which in the final session they converted to a very strong one.

Warner was magnificent - again. What Michael Clarke's innings may have occasionally lacked in style, his resolute blunting of Morkel's short pitched bowling by taking deliveries on his body was a great - cliche alert - captain's innings. (And did his battering encourage Morkel to bowl at the man when bowling at the stumps might have been more productive?)

Excuses for South Africa? Dale Steyn walked off with a hamstring injury, Abbott faded after a promising start and Dean Elgar bowled what must have been the highest number of (and least productive) overs of his career at any level .

Still early days, but with Clarke and Steve Smith, already 50*, in occupation, there's a solid foundation for at least another 100 runs which, barring 2011 style collapses, should provide a launching pad to strive for a match and series win.

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